Seventy years earlier, just after the close of World War II, another genius of the times addressed this predicament and its attendant question of what reimagining progress looks like as we behold the future from the precarious platform of the present. At the outset of the war, Camus considered what it means to have strength of character in difficult times. Now, at its grim end, he examines what it takes to maintain that strength and make it a heritage to future generations in the aftermath of extreme moral weakness at the level of a whole civilization. Yes, we must raise our voices. We are being torn apart by a logic of History which we have elaborated in every detail — a net which threatens to strangle us.
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Yes, we must raise our voices. Up to this point, I have refrained from appealing to emotion. We are being torn apart by a logic of history which we have elaborated in every detail — a net which threatens to strangle us. It is not emotion which can cut through the web of a logic which has gone to irrational lengths, but only reason which can meet logic on its own ground. But I should not want to leave the impression But the problem is not how to carry men away; it is essential, on the contrary, that they not be carried away but rather that they be made to understand clearly what they are doing.
To save what can be saved so as to open up some kind of future — that is the prime mover, the passion and the sacrifice that is required. For my part, I am fairly sure that I have made the choice.
And, having chosen, I think that I must speak out, that I must state that I will never again be one of those, whoever they be, who compromise with murder, and that I must take the consequences of such a decision. The thing is done, and that is as far as I can go at present However, I want to make clear the spirit in which this article is written.
We are asked to love or to hate such and such a country and such and such a people. But some of us feel too strongly our common humanity to make such a choice.
Those who really love the Russian people, in gratitude for what they have never ceased to be — that world leaven which Tolstoy and Gorky speak of — do not wish for them success in power politics, but rather want to spare them, after the ordeals of the past, a new and even more terrible bloodletting.
So, too, with the American people, and with the peoples of unhappy Europe. This is the kind of elementary truth we are likely to forget amidst the furious passions of our time. Yes, it is fear and silence and the spiritual isolation they cause that must be fought today.
And it is sociability and the universal intercommunication of men that must be defended. Slavery, injustice, and lies destroy this intercourse and forbid this sociability; and so we must reject them. But these evils are today the very stuff of history, so that many consider them necessary evils. But one may propose to fight within history to preserve from history that part of man which is not its proper province.
That is all I have to say here. Modern nations are driven by powerful forces along the roads of power and domination. I will not say that these forces should be furthered or that they should be obstructed. They hardly need our help and, for the moment, they laugh at attempts to hinder them. They will, then, continue. What if, despite two or three world wars, despite the sacrifice of several generations and a whole system of values, our grandchildren — supposing they survive — find themselves no closer to a world society?
It may well be that the survivors of such an experience will be too weak to understand their own sufferings. Since these forces are working themselves out and since it is inevitable that they continue to do so,there is no reason why some of us should not take on the job of keeping alive, through the apocalyptic historical vista that stretches before us, a modest thoughtfulness which, without pretending to solve everything, will constantly be prepared to give some human meaning to everyday life.
The essential thing is that people should carefully weight the price they must pay All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and to make a choice.
After that, we can distinguish those who accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being.
Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if it be clearly marked. Over the expanse of five continents throughout the coming years an endless strugle is going to be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle in which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success than that of the latter.
But I have always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions. Toggle navigation.
Close Table of Contents. Title: Neither Victims Nor Executioners. Topics: alienation , war. Author: Albert Camus. Source: Retrieved on February 2, from j November 30, Toward Dialogue Yes, we must raise our voices.
Neither Victims Nor Executioners
We live in terror because persuasion is no longer possible; because man has been wholly submerged in History.. To come to terms, one must understand what fear means: what it implies and what it rejects. It implies and rejects the same fact: a world where murder is legitimate, and where human life is considered trifling. This is the great political question of our times , and before dealing with other issues, one must take a position on it
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